cedar smoked beet salad

We’re celebrating Coutylicious here in Prince Edward County,  and a great chance to graze around all ten participating restaurants this year, sampling 3 course,  fixed price menus ($30-$35) featuring our astounding local ingredients. It was great to hear that Executive Chef Christian Reinhart (and my friend and Sous Chef Tim Stouffer) have included their spin on a Cedar Smoked Beet Salad on their Countylicious menu this year at The View Dining Room at the Picton Golf and Country Club.  I developed mine originally for a feature in Cottage Life in a story about cooking with fire, in       aug07 (click persistently and the story WILL pop up, promise).The recipes featured were photographed on location, on some mossy rocks in Muskoka by the wonderful Janet Bailey.

I love that they’re using Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Company’s goat cheese and County Cider in the dressing.

Don’t forget to make your reservations at The View (613) 476 -2222,  reservations only ) and other Countylicious restos in advance.

This year’s event runs from Nov 3-27, 2010.

Cedar Smoked Beet Salad

Collect dry birchbark and green cedar branches; cut cedar into small leafy sprigs and discard the larger woody branches. Choose young beets with thin skins, as there’s no need to peel them after smoking- just a good hardy rinsing.

Use a blowtorch to ignite them around the beets, but remember to do this step on a non-combustable surface.

2-1/2 lbs  medium sized beets, washed  (1.25 kg)

to cover   boiling water, lightly salted


1/3 cup       dry, hard apple cider (like County Cider) ( 75 ml)

1/3 cup     balsamic vinegar  (75 ml)

2    shallots, minced (or 1/4 cup/ 60 ml finely minced onion )

1-3 cloves    garlic. minced

3 Tbsp    parsley, chopped  (45 ml)

1/4 cup    olive oil   (50 ml)

3 tsp      dijon mustard (15 ml)

to taste    salt and freshly ground pepper

6 cups       mixed salad greens  (1.5 L)

1 cup        hazelnuts, skinned, toasted and chopped  (250 ml)

130 g.      soft goat’s cheese, crumbled

1     large carrot, peeled and grated

chives  to garnish

To Smoke Beets:

Put the beets in a large pot and cover with boiling water.

Return to a boil, reduce heat and cook gently until they are still firm

but slightly softened, or for about 12-15 minutes . Drain thoroughly.

Pile the hot beets on a metal tray mixed with the birchbark and cedar.

Ignite using a blowtorch. Allow to flame and smoke, fanning as necessary

and re-lighting to burn all the cedar, as needed. Cool slightly; rinse beets thoroughly

under running water to remove their skins.

Slice the beets and place into a large bowl; set aside.

For the Dressing:

Whisk together the cider, vinegar, shallots, garlic, parsley, olive oil, mustard, salt and pepper. Blend half the dressing with the warm sliced beets and set aside.

To Assemble:

Divide the greens evenly onto serving plates.

Top with the smoked beets and their juices, hazelnut, goat’s cheese and carrot.

Drizzle with remaining dressing; garnish with chives and serve.

Serves 6

MAKE AHEAD: Make the dressing and blanch the beets up to 2 days ahead.

SUBSTITUTION:*Hard (or alcoholic) apple cider is delicious in the dressing, but if you’re serving children, substitute it with non-alcohol sweet apple cider mixed with 1 Tbsp. (15 ml) apple cider vinegar.

VARIATION:Smoked Beet Waldorf Salad: replace the hazelnuts with walnuts, the goat’s cheese with blue cheese, and the carrot with 1 cup( 250 ml) halved seedless grapes. Prepare as directed.

photo by Janet Bailey    recipe/food styling by Ruth Gangbarcottage-life-aug-07